Welcome 2019!

Happy New Year! I’m so excited about starting 2019 and I hope you are too! It’s a tradition for me to look closely at the previous year, and plan for the new year. I always enjoy making a vision board as a reminder for what I’d like to accomplish. I keep it in my bedroom and pass it as I start my day. I’m planning to celebrate with friends soon for my birthday to make 2019’s, so we’ll be planning our years together and I’m sure it will be a blast.

It’s been awhile since my last post, and I’m sorry. I’ve missed communicating with you. First the holidays, and then I’ve been hard at work finishing my book. I’m afraid I’ve been a bit obsessed with finishing as I got closer to the end. I do have some thrilling news.

This is the year I will give birth to my literary baby. I’ll finally be able to share my experiences in Israel seeing incredible, sacred sites and running to bomb shelters. Israelis are a brave, committed people and even the women seem to have grown appendages that usually are attributed to males.

First off, after four and a half years since our amazing adventure in Israel touring incredible places and cowering in bomb shelters, my book, “Blasted from Complacency: A Journey from Terror to Transformation in Israel,” is finally written and I’ve updated all of the edits. YAHOO!

I have my title and cover designed as you can see . . . what do you think? I love it. My cover was designed by Andrew Chapman and represents my journey. About how being human targets for Palestinian missiles blasted me from complacency to work on sharing what I learned about Israel, and ultimately wanting to work on Peace.

Notice how the cover goes from darkness to light just like me in my experience. The background cloth represents the fabric of a tallit — how it’s woven together like the Israelis and Palestinians. The dove and the olive branch reflect my interest in Peace . . . when will these two peoples realize their similarities and begin to build a bridge of acceptance with each other?

BTW, the expression, “You can’t judge a book by its cover,” is simply wrong. People do judge books by their covers, so I made sure that mine was created by a professional cover designer. I had my own ideas but as with everything else with my book, I had to be flexible and remember I hired professionals because they know more about publishing than I do. However, it is a balance and it’s important to work as a team.

I knew this issue all too well. The cover I’ve shown you wasn’t my first. I knew exactly what I thought my cover should be originally and gave explicit suggestions. Oops. I wanted an iconic picture of the Western Wall with both the women’s side (for my feminist beliefs) and the men showing. I also wanted a picture of my B.B.F. Iron Dome (Israel’s anti-missile defense system) that saved Israelis and possibly our lives during our trip. It blows up the missiles in the sky before they can land and do their intended damage.

Originally Proposed Cover

Originally Proposed Cover

Andrew gave me what I thought I wanted. To me it looked beautiful. Back then my book also had a different title.  As luck would have it, I showed it to an astute friend who was on the trip with us. She observed, “You realize that many people looking at the Iron Dome missile streaking across the sky will interpret that as an Israeli missile being sent to kill Palestinians, don’t you?” Oh no!  That would be the antithesis of my intention of what it was meant to show — but that is how Israel is portrayed in the media.

Oy. Back to the drawing board and now I have a beautiful Peace dove and olive branch to warm my heart — in life, everything happens for a reason even if at first glance it seems like a huge disappointment.

Next phase is the production with interior design, spine, back cover design, eBook design and marketing.

Why did it take me 4 ½ years to finish writing my book? First, like in Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero’s Journey”, I had to “accept the call.” After all, what did I know about writing a book? Once I decided to go for it, I had to set out finding those answers.

First stop was writing my manuscript and having it critiqued by a memoir writing class taught by an award-winning teacher and author, Maralys Wills. I have to admit reading the other students’ writing was my guilty pleasure.

Becoming an author comes with all types of requirements besides writing, there’s developing an author’s website, hopefully accruing fans and becoming a speaker.

Luckily I’ve been a student all my life — I’ve always loved learning. I think it’s because my teachers — a profession that doesn’t receive nearly enough recognition — gave me those “atta-girls,” that I so sorely needed. Thank you.

Then there was researching and learning more about Israel. If I was going to write about Israel, I wanted to know more than the two sentences on our itinerary about the places we were visiting.

Thirdly, I had to research if what I heard was true from people like our tour guides — what do you mean Palestinian leaders encourage their people to become terrorists (but they don’t call them that — they call them martyrs). If they blow themselves up, their remaining families will be paid salaries — the more Jews killed, the higher the salaries — with our US and European tax dollars donated to help the Palestinian people. What? Surely this had to be Israelis with chips on their shoulders. Nope. It was deadly accurate.

I’ve been holed up at home in my protective womb, writing and researching all of this time and now I’m ready to begin revealing what is my life’s work — my purpose — and as a first time author, let’s just say it makes me feel like I’m naked in public and at almost sixty-three, I pray that my book will have a better reflection than the mirror gravity be damned!

I write for the newsletter for both Publishers and Writers of San Diego and Orange County monthly. Listening to their speaker Christopher Locke was a helpful way to start out the year. I strongly related to what he had to say. He spoke about having an effective marketing plan, and I was all ears. I do agree with him, the tasks are essential and seem “daunting.”

Christopher was upfront with his mistakes. I really wanted the opportunity to speak with him privately and compare notes. First-time authors — well, first time anything — can find the process fraught with gaffes, hopefully ones that don’t blow up your project.

He encountered many trials. Namely, publishing his first book that left him with a severe gap between costs and sales. I felt like I was being forewarned, and the theme song for Jaws was playing in the background. I was well aware how costs for publishing my own book had risen far beyond the original estimates, Oy. What’s a new author to do? Luckily, Christopher gave me an idea, and we’ll get to that soon.

Christopher told us when he finally received his book in-hand it was one of the greatest experiences of his life and it brought tears to his eyes — I’m sure I’ll feel the same. But these were not his only tears. Reality set in.

After publishing his first book, given the costs and lack of return, Christopher talked openly about his discouragement — he said it was “the worst two years of his life.” His dream of becoming an international best-selling author became a nightmare. I’m sure there are a few authors out there who could relate — I don’t want to join their club.

It costs thousands of dollars to self-publish and different books have varied requirements, and therefore different costs. For instance the number of pages vary or if there are pictures.

I noted that the costs of his first book were significantly lower than mine. He had married well and had a wife who not only encouraged him, but could edit his book. I’ve hired professionals with decades of experience throughout to make my book the best it can be, which translates into spending more than twice as much as he did — just so far.

A note to those of you who are thinking of publishing a book: Be sure you do your homework — it has to make sense for you and your wallet. I had been feeling down as I saw the expenses grow higher and higher and we were just finishing the editing. Then as my life “in the flow” often shows me, this new opportunity showed up.

Christopher then told us of his success running a Kickstarter campaign to fund the cost of his second book, and the campaign was a success! Sitting there listening to Christopher’s lack of return on investment potentially becoming my own nightmare made me think — why not try a Kickstarter campaign of my own? Kickstarter campaigns are not always successful, but it definitely sounded like it was worth a try. After all, my birthday is coming up at the end of the month, and he said that was another good incentive to use. So that’s what I decided to do.

My book is estimated to cost double his; and if I want extras like an audio book and index, the total jumps to over $20,000. Consequently, I’ve set my Kickstarter goal at $18,000 with some reach goals that would cover options I’d love to have like an index and an audio book. That’s no small investment, and there’s always the concern of whether you will ever recoup your expenses and also make a profit.

One major drawback in choosing Kickstarter as opposed to another fundraising company is that if you don’t meet your goal none of the people who pledge to support your book pay anything and you don’t get a dime — I wouldn’t get bubkis (beans or sh_t — pick your Yiddish definition of preference). Oy. A big risk, but it seems like they are the right one to choose for an author, and therefore me. There’s the chance to do lots of work without being compensated.

Unfortunately this sounded too familiar — I’m not a celebrity who was paid an advance to pour my heart and soul out writing my memoir over these last years. But it has been an effort of love. Love for Israel and love for my son — my “ethical will” so he would understand his mother’s motives, thinking — and what made Mom, Mom. He was a teen while I was writing this book and let’s say our conversations were mostly interpreting grunts and groans.

All of these facts add up and can make the result expensive. It’s best to discover that boulder while establishing your budget because smacking your toe against it can break your toe, the bank and possibly your heart.

The Kickstarter process works by the author setting up various rewards that people buy as pledges. For instance, they might receive an eBook for a specific dollar pledged or a signed copy of the book for a higher reward. One popular reward was that the people would be acknowledged on a page in the book. I’m planning on using all of these rewards for my campaign and more. It’s important to make your campaign your own — like everything you do in life — what makes you — YOU?

It takes a while to set up. You need to create rewards and do a video which I’m making  — you guessed it, more for me to learn. Once the campaign starts, stay in contact with people who make pledges and also try and keep the buzz going.

One of the most important things to do is to ask your followers to let their friends and followers know that they support you and to share your campaign. The more people who see your campaign, the more people who might want to support you, too. So please, once my campaign starts, will you kindly share my campaign with everyone you know — and even a few you don’t?  : ) It’s a numbers game, the more people who see your campaign, the more opportunity for someone to take an interest and make a pledge.

Please share, tweet, post on Facebook, email, send carrier pigeon, call your friends, work associates and ask your guru to send good vibes — but especially make a pledge. Namaste.

If the technology confounds your contacts — please help. Us older folks need love too and you’re used to our questions by now aren’t you? Well technology hurdles aren’t for all old folks  —  case in point, my husband (who is older than me) came to my rescue to splice those video snippets together for my Kickstarter campaign. Technology basics seem to be my speed and then I fall into the abyss . . .

I’m planning on having a 36-day campaign, being Jewish that’s double chai, in other words good luck. My birthday is January 29th, so my campaign will kick off just before then and continue until the thirty-six days are over. I’ve already started telling relatives that if they were planning on giving my anything for my birthday, this is what I want. So please wish me well and let’s see what happens.

I want to extend a personal thanks to Christopher for inspiring me to try Kickstarter and see what happens. I hope you will support me by making a pledge and sharing my campaign with your friends. I’ll let you know on Facebook, Twitter and here at www.PennySTee.com as soon as the Kickstarter campaign is LIVE!

Peace, שלום, سلام,

As always, I invite you to Join Me On My Journey . . .